Heinz Frei (SUI) – An exceptional athlete – His 100th marathon victory takes place in Berlin
16 victories at the BERLIN-MARATHON wheelchair competition
Since 1981, when the BERLIN MARATHON was carried out in the city centre for the first time, the wheelchair athletes have raced ahead of the rest and have since become an integral part of the event. The Berlin spectators love to watch the athletes in their fast chairs, and they receive the applause that they well deserve. One athlete has dominated the race for years—read the story here of his 100th marathon victory.
His statistics demonstrate in a concise form the scope of his athletic achievements. Whether one likes them or not (they can seem pretty dry), the human brain is capable of making these numbers come alive.
100th marathon victory for Heinz Frei
The 32nd real,- BERLIN-MARATHON 2005 was the platform for a memorable event, the 100th marathon victory for Heinz Frei. He won the BERLIN-MARATHON a total of 16 times, starting with a victory 20 years ago. It was not easy game for him — this year it was a fast race, ending with a sprint that he does not especially like, as one can never be sure if one will win in the end. Only one competitor was able to stick with him throughout his tempo attacks along the way: his fellow countryman, Marcel Hug, who came to Berlin with great credentials, victories at the European Championships this year in Helsinki in the 800m and 10,000m.
He had not yet been born
When Heinz Frei celebrated his first marathon victory in Berlin in 1985, Marcel had not yet been born — that too is a statistic, but it says so much. The 47-year-old champion was still able to keep the 19-year-old behind him, but he also knows that he has now passed his prime, which he openly admits, and he thus especially enjoyed this victory.
An opportunity to increase
Six men were still together around 24-25 km, when Heinz saw an opportunity to increase his pace in a combination of curves in the city district of Steglitz. Franz Nietlispach (SUI), Roger Puigbo, Jordi Madera (ESP), and Ralph Brunner from southern Germany had to watch him pull away, while only Marcel Hug was able to close in on him. The four pursuers fell further back over the next kilometres, so that Franz Nietlispach took third place ahead of Roger Puigbo about 2 minutes behind Frei. Ralph Brunner came in 5th clearly ahead of Jordi Madera. The victory, however, was fought out in a sprint between the old hand Heinz Frei and his pupil Marcel Hug, ending with a winning time of 1:28:32h. He thus gave both Berlin and himself a memorable event that cannot be topped.
Bad luck, however, was had by the freshly crowned world record holder Francesca Porcellato (ITA), who had to give up the race after some tire damage. A group of four including Edith Hunkeler, Sandra Graf (both SUI), Yvonne Sehmisch from Lusatia in Germany, and Shelly Woods of Great Britain drove a fast pace together. When the Swiss women picked up the pace in the second half of the race, the group broke up, and the two reached the finish area together, with Edith having the faster arms at the end, leaving Sandra Graf second place. Almost 3 minutes later, last years champion, Yvonne Sehmisch, took the last spot on the podium in front of Shelly Woods.
For the men’s functional category T2 there was a clear victory for Beat Bösch of Switzerland in 2:05:10h ahead of the Swede Christer Bülow (2:41:11) and Michael Fiddeke from Bernau (Germany) (2:43:36).
The best performance among the T1 racers was Stefan Strobel from Saarbrücken (2:36:59), who won clearly by over 6 minutes ahead of his competitor Alvise de Vidi (ITA), while Thorsten Oppold of Stuttgart came in third.
The strong performances and dominance of the Swiss team is worth mentioning: the Swiss received the top three places in the men’s T3/4 category, placed the top two women, as well as the top of the T2 category, thus also winning the International
German Championship. The only German able to prove himself in the T1 category at the fastest marathon in Germany was Stefan Strobel — congratulations to him!
These results should provide reason enough for the German wheelchair sport to critically rethink the structures and support provided for wheelchair athletes in Germany.
Dr. Reiner Piltz
1. Edith Hunkeler (SUI) 1:49:46
2. Sandra Graf (SUI) 1:49:51
3. Yvonne Sehmisch (GER) 1:52:34
1. Heinz Frei (SUI) 1:28:32
2. Marcel Hug (SUI) 1:28:33
3. Franz Nietlispach (SUI) 1:30:17
1. Beat Bösch (SUI) 2:05:10
2. Christer Bülow (SWE) 2:41:11
3. Michael Fiddeke (GER) 2:43:36
1. Stefan Strobel (GER) 2:36:59
2. Alvise de Vidi (ITA) 2:43:56
3. Thorsten Oppold (GER) 2:44:04
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